Beer: 25th Anniversary Ale
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
Style: Red Ale – Imperial / Double
9% ABV / 25 IBU
25 years in continuous operation is a cause for celebration but Brewery Ommegang’s future was never in doubt. The Cooperstown brewery’s calling card has always been Americanized versions of abbey ales with its flagship Three Philosophers casting such a long shadow that few breweries dare to compete in the Belgian quad style. Ommegang gets some credit here for being able to read the tea leaves at a time when Belgian imports like Delerium Tremens, Duvel, and Chimay offered a gateway into the world of craft beer, but it’s the quality and distinctiveness of their beers that has endured.
Ommegang isn’t trying to recreate familiar Belgian brands with its 25th Anniversary Ale—it’s a red ale for starters, and a fairly high-octane rendition. The inclusion of orange peel and coriander—what typically gives the Belgian witbier (a la Hoegaarden) its flavor palette—offers a wonderfully transformative twist with Ommegang’s 25th Anniversary Ale. Why aren’t more red ales brewed with adjuncts? Scratch that: Why aren’t all red ales brewed with adjuncts? Here’s a style that is the very definition of “blah” on its own that gets fruitiness and spiciness and a way more complex taste and nose from just adding two ingredients.
The bitterness, which comes from the late addition of Cascade hops, is pretty appealing, too. There’s a bit of bitterness from the orange peel and coriander, but it’s the hops that give the Ommegang 25th Anniversary Ale its dry, tongue-tingling finish. Like recent 25th anniversary celebration beers from Stone (Triple IPA), Left Hand (Russian Imperial) and Great Divide (Imperial Stout), the Ommegang 25th Anniversary Ale plays to all of the brewery’s strengths. This one is apparently only available in limited release, so snag a four-pack and set it aside—cellaring this one for a little might take the edge off of the bitterness and create a more malt-forward experience.
For more info on Ommegang, please head here.